WUHAN VIRUS/117,000 healthcare workers sign petition on coronavirus evacuations: organizer

Taipei, Feb. 8 (CNA) A petition calling for direct government involvement in the evacuation of Taiwanese nationals stranded in China by the novel coronavirus (2019 nCoV) outbreak has been signed by more than 33 percent of the country’s healthcare workers, according to its organizer Saturday.

Wu Hsin tai (???), a Pingtung based cardiovascular surgeon and activist for the pro independence Taiwan Statebuilding Party, launched the one day appeal Friday, laying out three main demands.

First, the petition urges that the government lead the evacuation process and that individuals requiring emergency medical care should be given priority on all future evacuation flights.

Second, it calls for Taiwanese medical authorities to accompany evacuees on their return flights and for all evacuees to be tested and quarantined upon their arrival.

The petition’s third point says that evacuation flights should be limited in number, based on the country’s capacity to receive incoming patients.

Of the signatories, 15 percent are doctors, 47 percent are nurses and the remainder work in the healthcare system in other capacities, Wu said.

While the results had not been independently verified, the petition’s website said it had received 117,000 signatures upon its closure at 10 a.m. Saturday.

Wu said she decided to launch the petition after learning that an evacuation flight on Monday a privately chartered flight out of Wuhan, China carrying 247 Taiwanese citizens had not given priority to vulnerable passengers, such as those with existing medical conditions.

Given that Taiwan only has 1,100 negative pressure isolation rooms to quarantine returning passengers, future repatriations must be led by the government and limited, in order to prevent over burdening the healthcare system, she said.

Wu presented her demands during a Taipei Doctors Union press conference outside the Mainland Affairs Council, the government body responsible for supervising cross Taiwan Strait exchanges.

The repatriation of Taiwanese nationals has become a controversial issue in recent days, as China has denied a request from Taiwan that negotiations take place through official channels.

Taiwan Premier Su Tseng chang (???) said Thursday that no further repatriations of Taiwanese nationals will be allowed unless arrangements are made through established communication channels between the two sides, rather than via private groups.

The cross strait affairs office in China’s Hubei Province, meanwhile, said Wednesday that it had received applications for transportation assistance from 900 Taiwanese people who remain stranded in the province.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel